The person who e-mailed White is apparently the webmaster of www.GodsReward.com. This person (who remains anonymous throughout his website) offers $100,000.00 to anyone who can prove God exists. It’s rather easy to offer rewards when you remain anonymous and thus no one can reach you to win it. At least Randi has his name attached to his million dollar challenged for the supernatural…
But that’s really a side issue. Other side issues include the vast amount of political nonsense this person spouts too. Instead, we are going to look specifically at the way the challenge was stated and the underlying philosophy behind it to demonstrate its fallacious nature.
Firstly, we observe:
Millions of people worldwide are searching for God in their lives. I began searching at five years of age by praying to learn whether God answers prayers. At the age of thirteen I read the entire Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Since then I have read documents of other religions. I have attended services of different religions and spoken with believers of various faiths. In 1996 I began offering a reward for proof God exists. GodsReward expands the offer to reach more people to pursue the first goal to search for God.This, of course, is written to sound as if this person is an “honest seeker” who wishes to know that God really does exist. Yet we shall quickly see that this is not the case. The first clue is found in the stipulation:
As payer of the reward, I reserve final judgment for acceptability of the proof.This alone demonstrates that the challenge is bunk. This individual is not demanding proof of the existence of God; he is demanding that we meet whatever standard of “acceptability” he decides to enact at any given time. After all, $100,000.00 is not a trivial sum. In addition to the depravity of natural man, this person has added on the extra financial motivation to never accept anything as proof.
At the very least, an impartial third party ought to be the “final judgment”. But this webmaster is not interested in a valid challenge; he is only interested in scoring “points” with other atheists.
This individual also writes:
The second objective is to defend the individual right to believe as one chooses. In various nations religion is forced upon individuals by inclusion of religious dogma in politics and the law of the land.The second sentence is written in a negative tone (as the rest of the paragraph bears out—it’s the second paragraph under the “Welcome to the Search for God” header); yet the author is seemingly unaware that he is actually NOT defending “the individual right to believe as one chooses” when one chooses to believe one ought to include “religious dogma in politics and the law of the land.” In short, he only defends the individual rights of those who agree with his position, while claiming a universal defense of rights.
We see that later under “Part II: Reasons Proof God Exists Is Needed.” There we read:
Each individual has the right to personal beliefs.Firstly, such a statement is absolutely false. It is not the case that each individual has the right to personal beliefs. Just look at any third world country, for example. Or try to be a blogger in China…
So we begin with a factual error. (Note, he did not say that each person ought to have this right; he says each person does have this right.)
But let us assume that each individual does has this right, for the sake of argument. Where did this “right” come from? Presumably, given his “manmade” proof position (see below), these “rights” are nothing more than manmade rights created by different individuals. In which case, the “right” is nothing more than a consensus of various individuals. As such, people only have “the right to personal beliefs” when society allows them this right. If society does not allow them this right, they do not have this right. There is nothing “wrong” with a society who decides that people do not have these rights—it is simply what is.
This is a fundamental human right of utmost importance that deserves respect.Really? If it is fundamental, then why wasn’t this right codified until the 17th Century? If this is so fundamental, then why isn’t it universal? Why have 99% of societies that have ever existed on this Earth not held to this “fundamental” human right? Indeed, why did it take a bunch of Christian Protestants to get this concept into popular culture?
Secondly, in what way does this right “deserve respect”? This right is just as “manmade” as any other strain of thought, including Nazism. Why does this concept “deserve respect” but not Hitler’s Final Solution?
Even concepts that have been proven by science to be false are within the right of belief of the individual.Of course this begs the question that “science” is the final arbiter of what is true in the first place. But the truth of science changes on a daily basis. Just a few generations ago, scientists believed in phlogiston and the ether…
Secondly, the right to believe something surly must imply the right to act upon one’s belief. Yet this author has already demonstrated that if you act on the belief that others ought to believe as you do, you’re “wrong.” (The self-contradiction in this concept is impossible to make up!)
Thus, this author claims:
Assertion of God in public policy violates the right of individuals to believe there is no God, or of individuals who believe in other Gods. When unfounded beliefs guide public policy, it violates individual rights.Yet advocating this violates the rights of those who believe we should assert God in public policy. It violates the individual rights of these individuals to deny them the ability to live as their beliefs would dictate, wouldn’t it?
It should be noted that this self-contradiction destroys the very basis for why this individual demands proof of the existence of God. Naturally, he can still have personal concerns, but his social complaints are based on self-refuting ideology.
This contradiction is only exemplified by his standard of proof. For instance, we read the following under the header “Evidence [For The Existence of God] That Will Not Be Considered”:
Manmade products of any sort will not be considered. … Manmade products include (but are not limited to):
* words, whether spoken, written, sung, or electronically generated
* art, whether painted, sculpted, or crafted by any manmade process
* fabric or other materials manufactured by manmade processes
* scientific devices
* humans themselves
* human actions
I’m not quite sure how one is supposed to even respond to this individual. After all, any argument that you decide to make for the existence of God entails, at the very least, words that you speak or write. One is left wondering how, exactly, we are supposed to communicate with this individual in the first place if words and even pictures are not allowed!
It also bears pointing out that under such rules, evidence of any historical claim is invalid. Imagine if I asked for proof that Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, but you couldn’t prove it to me using words, art, fabric, architecture, etc. How could you prove it happened? Even if you could demonstrate that an eruption did occur at some point (by, for instance, taking me to the location), that does not prove it happened in 1980!
In fact, with such restraints on what constitutes proof it is impossible to prove anything aside from the fact that this radical skepticism fails miserably.
In short, all this fundamentalist atheist has done is set up a fictional challenge with rigged rules that serves to disprove his own philosophy in the process! This is the type of game you must play, however, when you deny the existence of God.